Santa Fe Cookie Co.
What are all those respectable-looking businesspeople doing heading into a downtown alley? Normally when you sneak off into an alley to make a purchase, you're up to no good. But it's hard to deny the goodness of the cookies you'll find at the Santa Fe Cookie Co., a hole-in-the wall just off the 16th Street Mall. And the deal offered there is unbeatable: three big, fresh cookies for a buck. Get 'em while they're hot!
Most criminals won't act if they think there's a chance that they could be caught or killed. Armed with this knowledge of basic human instinct, Freaky's Tattoo and Body Piercing has developed a cheap and inexpensive security system: a handgun and brass knuckles sitting out on the counter. If you ask whoever's working there who left their piece out, they'll tell you it's for security. And would-be robbers should think twice about trying to grab the gun: There's probably another one under the counter.
Cobbler's Corner
Favorite shoes are too important to toss away at the first sign of trouble, and the pros at Cobbler's Corner have managed to rebuild plenty of seemingly exhausted footwear. Plus, the prices are reasonable and the repair work is friendly and speedy; in many cases, new heels can be put on while you wait. And although Cobbler's Corner can also be found in Greenwood Village and the Cherry Knolls Shopping Center, we're partial to the one on 17th Street. Downtown used to be full of hardworking small businesses; it's good for the sole to know this one is still around.
Rockmount Ranch Wear
Yes, we know that Rockmount Ranchwear has been making serious clothes for decades. Cowboys didn't just snap up those Western shirts with the snap buttons invented by founder Jack A. Weil because they wanted to look good (although they did); the shirts were comfortable, too. And for more than fifty years, the wholesale business kept Rockmount hopping. But a half-dozen years ago, this longtime family business decided to let everyone in on the secret, opening their LoDo building to retail trade and remodeling the ground-floor space into the coolest-looking store in town. In the process, Rockmount created Denver's single must-stop shop for souvenirs. Japanese tourists, British rock stars and conventioneers from Omaha alike all flock to Rockmount to pick up a tie or scarf with real Western art, a pair of cowboy boots, a hat, a shirt — or all of them, several times over. But you don't need to be a visitor to like Rockmount; this is how the West was worn.
Where The Buffalo Roam
For such a lively pedestrian strip, the 16th Street Mall has a paucity of shopping opportunities. This mile-long stretch is just one bad souvenir store after another, with the black-velvet monotony broken only by a couple of empty storefronts and chain discount operations. Still, you can't return home empty-handed — so your best bet for a quick Colorado gift is Where the Buffalo Roam. This store carries all the usual T-shirts and shot glasses and gilded aspen-leaf keychains, but it also boasts a worthy selection of University of Colorado paraphernalia. And who wouldn't appreciate a bright-orange hat courtesy of the Denver County Jail?
Northfield Stapleton
J.C. Penney might not be the first stop for fashionistas looking for the latest clothing trends, but the new Sephora inside the Northfield J.C. Penney is a great spot to pick up designer cosmetics and fragrances. While the selection is more limited than what you'll find in Sephora's stand-alone stores at FlatIron Crossing and Park Meadows, this location is the only one with a Denver address, and it's just as generous with free samples as the other outlets. Bare Escentuals, Philosophy, Juicy Couture — all can be had in the handy little spot, along with the good quality and affordably priced Sephora brand.
The pet project of Japanophiles Janene Hurst and Andrew Novick, Gimme Gimme Pillow Toast is no doubt the region's premier purveyor of kawaii, which is short for "weird Japanese pop-culture cute stuff," and caters to anyone entranced by that punked-out mix-and-mismatch Harajuku/gothic Lolita fashion sense. A hard-to-find cubbyhole on the artsy backside of Lakewood's Belmar Center, GGPT is your go-to source for OH! Mikey mannequin dramas, half-and-half stuffed panda/rabbit dolls, totally tweenish Brace Face T-shirts, Gloomy Bear keychains, manga comics, chocolate-tipped Pocky treats and Hello Panda cream-filled cookies, devil monkey buttons and kung fu-fightin' Bruce Lee candles (among other things). If you want it, come and get it.
The Container Store
When the Container Store announced that it would open a branch in Cherry Creek, we swear we heard a gigantic thud as thousands of urban neat freaks hit the floor and kowtowed to the gods in unison. For anyone who loves plastic storage boxes in dozens of sizes, kitchen gadgets galore, gift wrap and all its accoutrements, tiny compartments filled with even tinier compartments, sortable laundry bags and rainbow-colored plastic clothes hangers, there's no better place to while away a Sunday afternoon, walking softly and pushing a big cart. Spring cleaning, anyone?
Cafe Paprika
Courtesy Cafe Paprika Facebook
Cowtown-ish downtown Golden became a lot more exotic with the unveiling of Paprika. A belly-dance studio and a boutique, the place is one continuous magic carpet ride of slinky, jingly stuff, including reversible sari silk wrap skirts, voluminous harem pants, Gypsy gear and sparkly Rajasthani mirror belts, as well as a thousand and one nights' worth of djembes, doumbeks and sexy shakers, bells and gongs for keeping the beat.
Rheinlander Bakery
Tradition runs deep at Ed and Maro Dimmer's Olde Town bakery, which has been an Arvada mainstay since their folks, Jakob and Katharina, opened it more than forty years ago. Along with the everyday, though hardly mundane, fare of butter-laden Bienenstich layered cookie pastries, iced linzer tarts, sticky buns, coffeecakes and rough-hewn homemade strudels stuffed with fruit and cheese, Rheinlander offers hot cross buns in spring and really shines during the holidays, when the siblings trot out a full arsenal of marzipan-laced stollens, nut-filled Polish potica rolls, springerle and pfeffernusse cookies and spiced lebkuchen gingerbread. Guten appetit!

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